Opening this year’s IUMI annual conference, President Richard Turner was clear that within the current context of change, standing still was simply not an option for the marine insurance sector.
r. Turner presented “Pathways to a Sustainable, Resilient and Innovative Future” as this year’s conference theme and implied that a range of options were open to maximise marine underwriting in the future.
Chief amongst these was the impact of COVID.
Within marine insurance, COVID has sped up the shift towards online placements, the development of remote casualty surveys, and the increased adoption of digitalization. Whilst the full impact of the pandemic is yet to be played out, these changes are here to stay
Looking to the long-term, Mr. Turner raised the issue of the environment and sustainability, as he said that “alarmingly, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is predicting that coastal flooding “one in one hundred year” events could become annual activities.
What is more, Mr. Turner referenced the evolution of offshore windfarms enabling a move away from fossil fuels and the general decarbonisation of shipping.
We should give our full backing to the drive towards decarbonisation, but it must be matched by steps taken to ensure that safety is also prioritised and maintained. Some of the new potential alternative fuels are not without risk; and it will take a collaborative effort between all parties – plus no doubt some evolution in the regulatory environment – if we are to tackle this coming risk phase without mishaps
What is more, data and digitalisation will increasingly impact on marine underwriting, specifically on how risk is selected and priced. It will also be integral to the premium and claims handling processes. Here, Mr. Turner advocates a “blend of art and science”:
Digitalisation has the capacity to improve pricing consistency, risk selection, cut cost, improve service – but I would doubt that technology will deliver the complete picture and I foresee a continued role for skilled practitioners applying necessary judgement to the process
Regarding this, Mr. Turner expressed the need for marine underwriting to remain a specialised area of insurance employing practitioners who understood the shipping business.